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Leap year bug rains on Microsoft's Azure parade

Thirty days hath September, April, June and November...
Thu Mar 01 2012, 10:14

SOFTWARE BUG FACTORY Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud operation suffered a leap year outage yesterday that left customers including the UK government without services.

Among other customers, Whitehall's Cloudstore market for public sector cloud services was hit by the outage.

According to the government's Twittering the calendar date related outage first began to bite around noon. @G_Cloud_UK posted, "Power outage on microsoft azure means #cloudstore is temporarily unavailable. Patch being applied so will update when normal service resumed."

Microsoft admitted that it first noticed the gremlins yesterday at 5:45PM PST. It said that it became aware of "an issue" knocking the service over in a number of regions. The issue was triaged, according to the software company, and was determined to be caused by a "software bug".

Apparently this bug appears to be due to a time calculation that was "incorrect for the leap year".

"Once we discovered the issue we immediately took steps to protect customer services that were already up and running, and began creating a fix for the issue. The fix was successfully deployed to most of the Windows Azure sub-regions and we restored Windows Azure service availability to the majority of our customers and services by 2:57AM PST, Feb 29th," Bill Laing, Microsoft's corporate VP of Server and Cloud reported.

However, he acknowledged that some sub-regions and customers continued to experience issues and "a loss of application functionality" after this fix was applied.

He went on to stress that Windows Azure Storage was not impacted by the issue.

Kyle Hilgendorf, principal research analyst at Gartner said the incident highlighted how cloud providers tend to track cloud outages and issues based only on availability whereas they should also include performance and response metrics.

"Azure's health dashboard and communication originally communicated that only 3.8 [per cent] of customers were affected with this outage. There was no context around where the 3.8 [per cent] came from or how it was measured but I spoke to several customers this morning that suspect they were not included in the 3.8 [per cent]," he pointed out µ.


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